- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 16, 2002

RUNNING / Steve Nearman

Keith Dowling is no stranger to running shoes. As a marathoner, he goes through nearly a dozen pair a year.
But Dowling has never seen two truckloads of running shoes, and that is what he may be facing when he shows up for the Reston Runners weekly Sunday run this morning.
Dowling has taken on a personal project, to collect running shoes new and used to be sent to shoeless runners in Arusha Town in Tanzania, home to most of Tanzania's best runners, including Juma Ikangaa, Zeb Bayo and Boay Akonay.
"I came across [running author] Toby Tanser's site, www.tanser.org, and read about his shoe4africa program," said Dowling, a Reston resident who was the second American finisher at the 2002 Boston Marathon. "I thought it sounded like a good idea, and I contacted Reston Runners. That's when it got a little crazy.
"I have no idea how this is going to go. I had one person drop by the house with three bags. I heard from Anna Bradford, president of the Reston Runners, that we could have two pickup truck loads of shoes no less than 200 pairs of shoes."
This is when Dowling started becoming the math expert.
"I'm thinking, 'How am I going to pay for the postage to Africa for all those shoes?'" he said. "Toby figured two bucks a pair.
"If I tried to pay for all this myself, soon you'd be starting a charity for me Clothes4Keith," said Dowling, who posted recently on Tanser's New York City-based Web site.
Dowling said half-jokingly that his motivation to become involved in the shoe drive was partly borne out of guilt. As an Adidas-sponsored runner for 11 years, Dowling gets new shoes free whenever he asks.
But he also realizes the downside to supplying his future competition with much-needed shoes.
"The irony is that one of these Tanzania guys will kick my butt one day," he said.
And how often does one of America's top marathoners wear out his running shoes?
"I don't keep track of the mileage," he said. "I go by how dirty they look. So the coach over in Africa who will receive the running shoes, he washes all the shoes he receives, he probably won't have to even wash mine."
Dowling's only concern except for having to ship a mountain of running shoes is making it to the 7 a.m. run today from the Reston South Commuter Lot at Reston Parkway and Fox Mill Road (he expects to be around until 9 or so).
"I'm not a morning person at all," lamented Dowling, who plans to go a steady 15 miles. "I don't know how I'm going to do it. I like to run in the evening like 6:30 or so. It's going to kill me."
Dowling said he has enlisted the help of many of the area's other elite distance runners. "Rich and Cheri Kenah procured 25-30 mailing boxes, and Pete Sherry will help me transport the shipment," he said.
Meanwhile, Dowling focuses on the last stage of his running career qualifying for the 2004 Olympic marathon in Greece before taking a coaching job at a Division I college.
"Since Boston, my marketability went up somewhat," he said. "I am running Chicago in October, and I got a little more appearance fee than I would have. Confidence-wise, Boston was big for me. I am back on the right track [he improved his personal best from 2:14:30 to 2:13:28]. I turn 33 on July 4. It would be great to make it to Athens. I could finish my marathon career where the marathon started."
Sweetened pot Athletes will compete for a record $451,500 in prize money at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships from Friday through Sunday in Palo Alto, Calif. The top five finishers in each event earn $4,000, $3,000, $2,000, $1,000 and $500, plus a shot at a spot on the 2002 World Cup team.
The purse of $451,500 is a 20 percent increase from last year's total of $375,000.


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